When the womb is a source of income

The rate at which men are being sped towards the Children’s Court for child support charges is alarming. No wonder our masculine Parliament is rethinking the Marriage Act to abolish among others child upkeep as the sole responsibility of the man.

In any civilised society, men should be held accountable to provide for the children they sire out of wedlock or after a divorce. But while there are men who ought to pay for recklessly sowing their wild oats, many now feel women are taking advantage. As one police officer put it, “Women have turned their wombs into a source of revenue."

But few shoe shiners and touts are hauled to the children’s court for upkeep charges.

"It is part of the human instinct to be associated with greatness and power,” says Sheila Wachira, a counsellor on social matters. "Apart from that, the economic factor is quite paramount. A man who earns a living from burning charcoal may provide 200 shillings at the end of the month compared to a ‘big wig’ who will pay at least 100, 000 shillings."

Cobbler James Kamangu

The counsellor further says that men who run away from child support duties are merely making a statement to disassociate themselves from such women - of low social status - who are after ensnaring them and their money. Most of the time, she continues, these men "have no idea that they are actually siring children. To them, they are having fun, only for it to turn out later that the woman was not on contraception or in any way protected from pregnancy."

In reality, many of the women kinkily manipulate situations, with  deliberate intentions to get pregnant from high-profile men and then use it for financial benefits later.

Sheila opines that both men and women have an inborn affinity to seek for prestige. She cites Bishop Margaret Wanjiru and the infamous cobbler James Kamangu’s saga that played out in the public a few years back. Kamangu blocked Bishop Wanjiru’s wedding to South African Reverend Samuel Matjecke. Kamangu said he had married her under Kikuyu customary law and they and they had children together.

The point Kamangu was making was that “see that powerful woman there, she was once mine.”

Indeed, never has putting a woman in the family way, or “breaking a goat’s leg” as a ‘certain community’ from Central Kenya puts it, been this expensive in Kenya.

Here are Nairobi’s top 10 child support cases of recent times:

1.  Kenneth Marende, Former House Speaker

Apparently, the former MP for Emuhaya cannot be “sufficiently philanthropic” towards the child he allegedly sired with Jennifer Nkouwa, after she finished her Form Four in 2008.  Marende was ordered to pay Sh457,000 by Principal Magistrate F. Munyi pending the hearing of the case. The ink of the writ had not dried when another woman, Rachael Olubero surfaced and claimed they have a daughter together and wanted Marende to honour a court order issued in 2011 for a girl born ten years ago. The letter from the school indicated that he had not paid Sh211,850.

On January 31, the court issued an order requiring the respected politician to pay school fees for the minor and cater for other related expenses.

2. Swaleh Mdoe, TV news anchor

Sued by Fauzia Ahmed, she wants Mdoe’s employer to attach part of his salary for maintenance of the child born in 2004.

She claimed that the author of five books and TV Kiswahili news Managing Editor earns Sh750,000 every month, but had neglected his parental responsibility. Mdoe, an alumnus of Masalpina University-College (now Vancouver Island University in Canada), however denied ever cohabiting with the woman or siring the baby girl. The news anchor too denied earning Sh750,000 and wants the woman to prove her claim. Mdoe had been directed to pay school fees and related expenses amounting to Sh21,000 but failed to act. Now the woman wants Mdoe’s salary be attached and the upkeep remitted to her. According to the woman, her child had failed to join school in January and her performance had been greatly affected. In the meantime she wants Sh50,000 until the case is determined. Further, she wants Sh95,000 to cater for the needs of raising the child. A paternity test is yet to be determined.

3.Tom Mboya- TV news anchor

The TV presenter is sued by a Kenya Methodist University Student, Elsie Achieng. Mboya has been ordered to pay Sh40,000 earlier on in the month, pending the hearing and determination of the case. The payments are to be made by the fifth of every month.

The child is two years and four months old. According to Achieng, Mboya had told close relatives that he will not maintain the child and was ready to have the matter settled in court. Mboya reportedly stopped providing November last year for no ostensible reason. She told the court that she is a student with no means of supporting the child.

The case will be heard on April 1.

4. David Makali, political analyst

The savvy political analyst and media personality too has a date with courts. His former wife Regina Wanjiru wants the court to order Makali to show why since July last year, he had failed to provide for his two sons. The political analyst risks jail for failure to pay Sh248,310 as maintenance for his former partner and two sons. That is the accrued amount over the same period.

According to his ex-wife, Makali had admitted to court that he earns Sh450,000 from his two businesses-one in music distribution- but had neglected his parental obligations. According to court papers seen by The Nairobian, the two were lawfully married on February 14, 1998 through a church ceremony conducted at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi and the couple was later blessed with two sons on April 5, 1999 and March 16, 2002 respectively.

5. Moses Wetang’ula-Bungoma Senator

The Senator was ordered to pay Sh270,000 monthly and an extra amount of Sh120,000 for other needs of the child he sired in their marriage sanctioned by the Bukusu customary law.  The woman also claimed at the time of the suit, she  was expecting Wetangula’s second child.

She wants the court to compel Wetangula to provide for her and the child adequately, noting that he is a man of means and earns good pay as a lawmaker and a lawyer.

6. Patrick Muiruri-Former Gatundu North MP

Last year, Joyce Wanjiku lodged a case in court and Resident Magistrate ZW Gichana ordered the former MP to remit Sh6,000 per month as maintenance costs for the child.

The former Assistant Minister of Production & Marketing in the Ministry of Agriculture contested the case, but the amount might not be as alarming as the rest.

7. Fred Gumo,

Former Westlands MP

Last year, a woman sued former cabinet minister claiming they had a five-year old relationship, which Gumo terminated upon discovering that she was pregnant with his child. She asked the court to make him provide Sh150,000 as monthly upkeep and also sought legal custody for the child. Gumo said he had given her a job, which she turned down on grounds Sh10,000 as salary was too little.

The woman reportedly had three other children by other men and Gumo had claimed that those men are equally paying for her children’s upkeep.

8. Mutula Kilonzo, Politician/lawyer now deceased

Former Makueni senator Mutula Kilonzo’s funeral plans were nearly put on hold after a woman went to court demanding for a DNA sample to confirm the paternity of her seven-year-old son. The 23-year-old Eunice Nthenya, had sworn an affidavit stating she had been in a relationship with Mutula for three years during which they had a child together. She claimed Mutula had even paid the Sh4,000 maternity fee when the child was born.

9. Pastor Thomas Wahome- Pastor  

 Not even men of God have been spared. In 2011, the Helicopter of Christ Church pastor Thomas Wahome was sued of neglect and the wife demanded Sh300,000 because the pastor “made millions from worshippers”.

10. Nazlin Umar, Politician

More peculiarly was the former Presidential candidate Nazlin Umar who sued tycoon Madalati Chatur demanding Sh280 million settlement as upkeep and dowry in 2011. Chatur called her an extortionist.

– Additional reporting by Pamela Chepkemei, Gardy Chacha and Fred Makana